What is Dirty Electricity?
Dirty electricity is an anomaly caused by high voltage surges travelling throughout standard wiring that only has a capacity of 50/60-Hertz. It is also known as line noise or electrical noise, and it is one of the many sources of EMF pollution in your home environment.
What Causes Dirty Electricity?
Electronics have become more advanced, and the standard 50-60 Hz wiring system has become obsolete and can no longer meet the functioning capabilities of these devices and appliances. Because of this, developers manipulate the way modern electronics adapt to this system. They may apply three techniques as follows:
- Converting the alternating current (60 Hz AC) into direct current (low-voltage DC)
- Drawing electrical current intermittently by turning the power on and off
- Higher-voltage AC
These techniques interrupt the regular flow of standard 60 Hz AC suitable for most modern wiring systems. The anomalies that result from these manipulations create surges and spikes of electricity. People refer to these spikes as ‘dirty power,’ ‘electrical noise’ or ‘dirty electricity.’
Modern electronic equipment like TVs, computers, mobile phone chargers, energy-saving light bulbs and other products need electricity of approximately 120 V. These modern devices often use two methods to achieve this:
- A rectifier that converts alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC)
- A transformer that modifies the voltage
Laptop chargers have transformers shaped as boxes that regulate the voltage and prevent the machine from overheating.
The main issue with these transformers is that they intermittently switch the voltage from AC to DC, which interrupts the flow of smooth sine waves and produces line noise or dirty power.
As dirty power flows to the breaker box it then travels downstream to all outlets in your home. Since most electronics don’t use this dirty power, it continues to move into neighbouring homes or buildings.
Some Common Dirty Electricity Causes
Modern computers run on low-voltage direct current (DC) rather than the standard 50 Hz alternating current (AC). A computer has different components, like the speakers, fans, circuitry, etc., and each part requires different voltages. The various transformers found in the computer convert the voltage from AC to DC, and lower the current to produce ‘electrical noise’ or dirty electricity.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
A compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL bulb) uses high-frequency alternating current (AC) and not the standard 60 Hz. CFL bulbs significantly reduce the humming and flicker common with old-fashioned fluorescent tubes. CFL bulbs convert AC into direct current (DC), and then directly to high-frequency AC. This process creates spikes that produce electrical noise, and this contaminates the normal flow of electricity.
Dimmer switches let us regulate brightness levels from dim to bright by adjusting a slider or turning a knob. Turning the light ‘on’ and ‘off’ repetitively saves energy, creating a pleasant ‘mood’ lighting. For bright light, turn the switch on rapidly, and much slower if you want dimmer light. However, the repetitive action of switching ‘on/off’ disrupts the standard flow of 50-60 Hz electricity and produces electrical noise.
Dirty Electricity Effects
Dirty electricity typically interferes with optimum functioning of electronic appliances, creating a phenomenon referred to as power line electromagnetic interference (EMI). Today, as an electrical appliance draws power from the main building wiring, it not only gets the standard electricity as initial input but also receives the erratic surges and spikes of energy. Many electric appliances malfunction when this happens as they are not equipped to handle this dirty power.
Research now shows that dirty power might disrupt essential electrical functions within the body. Regular exposure to electro-pollution has often been associated with a wide range of health problems. It is therefore imperative to find ways to minimise your exposure to dirty electricity.
Can Dirty Electricity Affect Our Health?
Dirty electricity ultimately emits unsafe, and unwanted, electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). These EMFs are linked to health complications and now studies show that low-level exposure can cause various diseases including mood swings, headaches, fatigue, digestive issues, asthma, heart arrhythmia, fertility issues, cancer, diabetes, etc.
What EMF Levels Are Safe?
Despite a growing number of studies showing the various health risks associated with EMFs, government agencies face challenges when trying to determine whether they can find ways to minimise EMF levels.
The many factors that come into play when assessing what EMF levels are safe include pulse and frequency variations, electrical voltage and duration of exposure. These factors make it challenging to set best safety practices in the home. Most safety guidelines only consider EMF levels that can affect and ultimately increase the temperature of an object.
How to Minimise Dirty Electricity
Switch Off Appliances
If possible, switch off electronic appliances, electronics, and all other electronic devices if you are not using them.
Install EMF Filters
Install dirty electricity filters around the house and areas where you spend most of your time.
Swap Fluorescent Bulbs
If you have installed compact fluorescent light bulbs, consider getting LED bulbs or incandescent bulbs instead. Before you install LED bulbs, ensure you get a brand that will not produce high levels of dirty electricity.